A crack in the armour

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

In the last municipal election, Hamiltonians unequivocally stated it was time the city joined the 21st century. They wanted the Red Hill Creek Expressway completed, they wanted the municipality to become business-friendly, they wanted their representatives to put their constant squabbling over amalgamation behind them, they wanted lower taxes and, most of all, they wanted to trash Hamilton's old-style political culture trashed.

Larry Di Ianni's vision was something people could grab hold of and hang onto - if it produced results. The decision by Maple Leaf Foods to withdraw its interest to purchase land at the North Glanbrook Industrial Park this week has not only shattered a once-stable vision, but it has revealed the political cracks growing among city councillors. To be sure, the chinks among politicians had been there, but they had been masked by the forward motion of Di Ianni and his agenda.

Council weathered the storm from the vote over the aerotropolis, and endured the pressure to spend about $100 million on another Commonwealth Games bid. The fissures, though, were beginning to show, most noticeably over the debate to extend the compliance audit on the mayor's campaign finances. Now the wounds are open as everybody examines the work done by the mayor.

Di Ianni pointed fingers at "certain councillors" for undermining the process following the Maple Leaf Foods announcement. The most notably political opponent of the deal had been Bob Bratina. Whether for real or for effect, Bratina's political sun has risen significantly with the deal's demise; he made many friends within the community as he roasted the pork processing company.

In contrast, mountain councillor Terry Whitehead is incensed at the outcome. His mandate as a councillor, he says, is to grow the city's assessment base, so Hamilton can afford the needed social service programs for the most vulnerable, and to reduce the ever rising taxes on homeowners. Maple Leaf Foods would have meant up to $9 million in assessment - a treasure trove for a financially crippled city.

On top of the Maple Leaf Foods deal going sour, Whitehead looks at councillor Brian McHattie's motion to establish a Business Attraction Task Force to implement a Triple Bottom Line Business Criteria, and shakes his head at the inanity of Hamilton's situation. "We need to de-politicize the process," he said. "This was about a land deal, nothing more...Maple Leaf Foods has proven Hamilton's process is politicized."

Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson says council remains overwhelmingly supportive of the mayor's agenda. Witness the majority votes on the aerotropolis, rebuilding city hall, the Lister Block redevelopment, the Business Tax Reduction program, the Hamilton Harbour cleanup and downtown revitalization. But there are whispers emitting from some councillors that the agenda is too "mayor centred." In return, some councillors, especially the veterans, remain stuck in Hamilton's past, bereft of any new ideas, afraid to take chances.

Bratina has been characterized as 'Rip Van Bratina,'newly-awakened from a deep sleep and ready to recapture a past that is no more.

"I'm not going to get into the business of finger pointing," said Jackson. "I though our job as councillors was to build communities, not to divide them."

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757 ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

A crack in the armour

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

In the last municipal election, Hamiltonians unequivocally stated it was time the city joined the 21st century. They wanted the Red Hill Creek Expressway completed, they wanted the municipality to become business-friendly, they wanted their representatives to put their constant squabbling over amalgamation behind them, they wanted lower taxes and, most of all, they wanted to trash Hamilton's old-style political culture trashed.

Larry Di Ianni's vision was something people could grab hold of and hang onto - if it produced results. The decision by Maple Leaf Foods to withdraw its interest to purchase land at the North Glanbrook Industrial Park this week has not only shattered a once-stable vision, but it has revealed the political cracks growing among city councillors. To be sure, the chinks among politicians had been there, but they had been masked by the forward motion of Di Ianni and his agenda.

Council weathered the storm from the vote over the aerotropolis, and endured the pressure to spend about $100 million on another Commonwealth Games bid. The fissures, though, were beginning to show, most noticeably over the debate to extend the compliance audit on the mayor's campaign finances. Now the wounds are open as everybody examines the work done by the mayor.

Di Ianni pointed fingers at "certain councillors" for undermining the process following the Maple Leaf Foods announcement. The most notably political opponent of the deal had been Bob Bratina. Whether for real or for effect, Bratina's political sun has risen significantly with the deal's demise; he made many friends within the community as he roasted the pork processing company.

In contrast, mountain councillor Terry Whitehead is incensed at the outcome. His mandate as a councillor, he says, is to grow the city's assessment base, so Hamilton can afford the needed social service programs for the most vulnerable, and to reduce the ever rising taxes on homeowners. Maple Leaf Foods would have meant up to $9 million in assessment - a treasure trove for a financially crippled city.

On top of the Maple Leaf Foods deal going sour, Whitehead looks at councillor Brian McHattie's motion to establish a Business Attraction Task Force to implement a Triple Bottom Line Business Criteria, and shakes his head at the inanity of Hamilton's situation. "We need to de-politicize the process," he said. "This was about a land deal, nothing more...Maple Leaf Foods has proven Hamilton's process is politicized."

Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson says council remains overwhelmingly supportive of the mayor's agenda. Witness the majority votes on the aerotropolis, rebuilding city hall, the Lister Block redevelopment, the Business Tax Reduction program, the Hamilton Harbour cleanup and downtown revitalization. But there are whispers emitting from some councillors that the agenda is too "mayor centred." In return, some councillors, especially the veterans, remain stuck in Hamilton's past, bereft of any new ideas, afraid to take chances.

Bratina has been characterized as 'Rip Van Bratina,'newly-awakened from a deep sleep and ready to recapture a past that is no more.

"I'm not going to get into the business of finger pointing," said Jackson. "I though our job as councillors was to build communities, not to divide them."

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757 ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com

A crack in the armour

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

In the last municipal election, Hamiltonians unequivocally stated it was time the city joined the 21st century. They wanted the Red Hill Creek Expressway completed, they wanted the municipality to become business-friendly, they wanted their representatives to put their constant squabbling over amalgamation behind them, they wanted lower taxes and, most of all, they wanted to trash Hamilton's old-style political culture trashed.

Larry Di Ianni's vision was something people could grab hold of and hang onto - if it produced results. The decision by Maple Leaf Foods to withdraw its interest to purchase land at the North Glanbrook Industrial Park this week has not only shattered a once-stable vision, but it has revealed the political cracks growing among city councillors. To be sure, the chinks among politicians had been there, but they had been masked by the forward motion of Di Ianni and his agenda.

Council weathered the storm from the vote over the aerotropolis, and endured the pressure to spend about $100 million on another Commonwealth Games bid. The fissures, though, were beginning to show, most noticeably over the debate to extend the compliance audit on the mayor's campaign finances. Now the wounds are open as everybody examines the work done by the mayor.

Di Ianni pointed fingers at "certain councillors" for undermining the process following the Maple Leaf Foods announcement. The most notably political opponent of the deal had been Bob Bratina. Whether for real or for effect, Bratina's political sun has risen significantly with the deal's demise; he made many friends within the community as he roasted the pork processing company.

In contrast, mountain councillor Terry Whitehead is incensed at the outcome. His mandate as a councillor, he says, is to grow the city's assessment base, so Hamilton can afford the needed social service programs for the most vulnerable, and to reduce the ever rising taxes on homeowners. Maple Leaf Foods would have meant up to $9 million in assessment - a treasure trove for a financially crippled city.

On top of the Maple Leaf Foods deal going sour, Whitehead looks at councillor Brian McHattie's motion to establish a Business Attraction Task Force to implement a Triple Bottom Line Business Criteria, and shakes his head at the inanity of Hamilton's situation. "We need to de-politicize the process," he said. "This was about a land deal, nothing more...Maple Leaf Foods has proven Hamilton's process is politicized."

Hamilton councillor Tom Jackson says council remains overwhelmingly supportive of the mayor's agenda. Witness the majority votes on the aerotropolis, rebuilding city hall, the Lister Block redevelopment, the Business Tax Reduction program, the Hamilton Harbour cleanup and downtown revitalization. But there are whispers emitting from some councillors that the agenda is too "mayor centred." In return, some councillors, especially the veterans, remain stuck in Hamilton's past, bereft of any new ideas, afraid to take chances.

Bratina has been characterized as 'Rip Van Bratina,'newly-awakened from a deep sleep and ready to recapture a past that is no more.

"I'm not going to get into the business of finger pointing," said Jackson. "I though our job as councillors was to build communities, not to divide them."

Kevin Werner is regional reporter for Brabant Newspapers. He can be reached by calling 905-308-7757 ext. 36, or by email at kwerner@brabantnewspapers.com